The Jakarta Post
Still from 'A Sonorous Melody' by director Riani Singgih, producer Annisa Adjam and co-producer Muhammad Ismail (IF/Then Southeast Asia 2020/File)
IF/Then Southeast Asia, a mentorship program for young filmmakers in Southeast Asia, is scheduled to be held for a second time from June 17 to 23 – in the form of an online event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program helps the filmmakers in story development and global distribution. The Story Development Lab will run from June 17 to 21, and the Pitch sessions will be held from June 22 to 23. The program’s web seminars and Pitch sessions are open to the public, and those who are interested can register as “observers” via this website.
Supported by the United States Embassy in Indonesia, IF/Then Southeast Asia 2020 will feature 19 documentaries from several countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand. The films are curated by the program’s committees based on works submitted before the March 6 deadline.
The six selected documentaries from Indonesia are Hi Boy by Rahmi Murti (director) and Wini Angraeni (producer); Homebound by Ismail Lubis (director) and Nick Calpakdjian (producer); How to Sell Piety by Yovista Ahtajida (director); Looking for Haven by Andi Hutagalung (director, producer) and Tedy Pasaribu (producer); Rabiah and Mimi by Arfan Sabran (director) and Nick Calpakdjian (producer); and A Sonorous Melody by Riani Singgih (director), Annisa Adjam (producer) and Muhammad Ismail (coproducer).
The documentaries highlight social, political and cultural issues. Hi Boy, for instance, narrates the life of a student, Hiroki, who finds a new, supportive circle of friends after joining a K-Pop fan club. A Sonorous Melody follows a singer and a wayang sodo (traditional puppet made from coconut leaf sticks) maker who are deaf and determined to empower themselves through the art of storytelling.
Still from 'Hi Boy' by director Rahmi Murti and producer Wini Angraeni (IF/Then Southeast Asia 2020/File)
The young filmmakers will receive mentorship from experts in the program, namely director-producer Cynthia Lowen from the US, editor-producer Hata Takeshi from Japan, senior commissioning producer of Al Jazeera English Emile Guertin from the United Kingdom and director of IF/Then Shorts – Tribeca Film Institute Chloe Gbai from the US.
“IF/Then always supports filmmakers who focus on stories about their local communities,” said Chloe Gbai in a statement. “We’d like to create diversity in the documentary film industry as it’s the spirit and working principle of IF/Then that we’ll continue to maintain.”
Launched in 2018, IF/Then is the result of partnership between NGO In-Docs and US-based nonprofit the Tribeca Film Institute. The program’s first installment involved 28 Southeast Asian filmmakers and gathered more than US$80,000 (Rp 1,123,900,000) in grants from three worldwide broadcasters, including Al Jazeera English.
Four winners of IF/Then 2018 were invited to seven international documentary forums and participated in 11 international film festivals. Ucu Agustin, one of the winners, received the 2019 Indonesian Film Festival’s (FFI) Piala Citra award for best short documentary for Sejauh Kumelangkah (How Far I’ll Go). The documentary was also commissioned by Al Jazeera English.
“IF/Then has opened my horizon and sharpened my perspective as an Indonesian filmmaker,” said Ucu. “I received comprehensive mentorship on how to collaborate with international broadcasters and tell a story that isn’t only good but also inspiring without having to lecture the audience.” (wir/wng)
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